On this 6 day road trip you will be able to experience spectacular wilderness and wildlife at a number of Australia’s most impressive National Parks between Sydney and Blackheath.
Skirt around Canberra and work your way through the remote alpine bush, heading towards the Blue Mountains. End your trip with a well-deserved spa treatment in the Blue Mountains, and enjoy the impressive views at the World Heritage-listed Park.
Image credit: Destination Southern Highlands
Day 1: Sydney to Kiama
2hr | 121km
The Grand Pacific Drive is one of Australia's most spectacular driving routes. Starting from The Royal National Park south of Sydney, this route takes you through rainforests and seaside villages as you follow the exquisite coastline.
Tackle all or part of the Kiama Coast Walk, a 22km track that runs from Minnamurra to Gerringong, passing Bombo Headland’s striking hexagonal basalt columns. Head to the famous blowhole to “ooh” and “ahh” each time a saltwater plume shoots into the air, and ramble around the town’s simple 19th century lighthouse.
One of the hippest places to eat is El Corazon Cocina de Mexico overlooking Kiama Harbour. Admire the eatery’s ultra cool Frida Kahlo wallpaper while tucking into platefuls of beans, rice and pulled pork, washed down with a salt rimmed margarita or two. Werri Beach Fish Shop, a hop and a skip down the coast, is also rightly famous for its crisp take on classic fish and chips. Take the piping hot bundle, wrapped in butcher’s paper and yesterday’s news, across to the beach or devour them right there in the shop’s pretty courtyard. The 80 room Sebel Harbourside Kiama overlooking Kiama Harbour offers guests rooms and apartments with one or two bedrooms.
Day 2: Kiama to Bundanoon
1hr 14min | 77km
Less than two hours' drive from Kiama, Bundanoon is a gateway to Morton National Park, a spectacular wilderness with waterfalls, escarpment lookouts and enchanting forest, and close to the vineyards and wineries of the Southern Highlands. For the first walk of your trip, choose between a 20 minute trail starting from the Gambells Rest campground just inside the national park, to the abandoned Erith Coal Mine, and back, or a one hour loop walk to the Fairy Bower Falls, which provides scenic views on the Lovers, Riverview and Mount Carnavon walking tracks. As twilight approaches, head to Bundanoon's Glow Worm Glen's viewing platform. As the evening darkens, the rock turns into a mass of tiny twinkling lights that resemble a distant city at night.
Did you know: Glow worms are actually not worms at all. In this part of the world they’re the larvae of fungus gnats, which lay around 130 eggs and then die. When the larvae hatch, they position themselves near cracks in the rock so they can shelter from cold or dry conditions. A chemical reaction between body fluids and oxygen creates the ‘glow worm’ light that helps attract their prey. The larvae also spin sticky webs in order to then catch these creatures.
Just a short walk away from the village of Bundanoon, Yallambee B&B is a modern house set on an acre of terraced gardens. Enjoy a hearty breakfast, chat to the friendly owners and help yourself to homemade cake.
Day 3: Bundanoon to Yass
1hr 37min | 151km
Skirt around Canberra and set your maps for Brindabella National Park - a remote alpine bush experience with an extensive network of challenging 4WD trails. Your journey will take you through unique mountainous terrain covered with red stringy bark and scribbly gums, and across ridgelines with scenic views of the entire Brindabella range.
Take a break at The Globe Inn, a boutique B&B in a restored Georgian building from 1847. You can enjoy a glass of wine on the verandah before heading to dinner in the local area, and enjoy a relaxing nights stay. The rooms are spacious and their beds are comfortable.
Day 4: Yass to Queanbeyan
1hr 6min | 82.6km
A gateway to the Snowy Mountains and the nation's capital, this charming country town can often be overlooked. But with it's historical buildings, patrols heritage, and positioning between the Molonglo and Queanbeyan rivers, Qeanbeyan has its own distinct personality deserving of exploration.
After almost a full day cooped up in the car, the self-guided Queanbeyan Heritage Walk is perfect for stretching restless legs while discovering significant sites from the 1800s that have shaped the area to what it is today. If you'd prefer to stretch out in the sun, the Queen Elizabeth Park II is the ideal place to relax on the bank of the the Queanbeyan River while watching the kids try and dodge the jet streams in the wet-play area. The park also hosts a market every Sunday where stall offerings include homemade honey, artisan breads, local wine and in-season produce, as well as crafts, jewellery and candles. Before jumping back in the car, drop in to the Riverbank of Queanbeyan Cafe for a little treat from their all day 'Snack Menu'.
Day 5: Queanbeyan to Sofala (for Hill End)
3hr 16min | 277km
Set out for the Hill End Historic Site where you can follow in the footsteps of the early goldminers and relive the nostalgia of the 1850s Australian Gold Rush on the Gold Trail, which covers Goulburn, Upper Lachlan, Yass, Adelong, Harden, Boorowa, Young, Grenfell, Forbes and Bathurst.
If you yearn to know what 19th century underground mining was really like, then a visit to Bald Hill mine is a must. The Bald Hill lookout also offers spectacular views of the area.
Tanwarra Lodge B&B is a hidden gem! Guests share a lovely house overlooking bushland in the country's oldest surviving gold town, Sofala. The country-style bedrooms have ensuites and the licensed bistro offers home-style cooking and pizza.
Day 6: Sofala to Blackheath
1hr 36min | 122km
Drive to Dunns Swamp, or Ganguddy as it’s known to local Wiradjuri Aboriginal people, in Wollemi National Park, and walk along the edge of the ‘swamp’, which is really a section of the Cudgegong River. The track leads up past pagoda rock formations and on to Kandos Weir offering expansive views of the park. Dunns Swamp is perfect for a range of low-key recreational activities such as birdwatching, fishing, and swimming.
Then hope back in the car and head east towards Blackheath. At the nearby Hydro Majestic Hotel, sit by a window for views over the Jamison Valley and enjoy complimentary canapes with a pre-dinner beer.
Drive a short 6 minutes and you will come across Wintergarden Restaurant, Hydro Majestic Hotel. Offering sweeping mountain views combined with fine dining, this is the perfect place to end your day. Sit by a window for views over the Jamison Valley and enjoy complimentary canapes with a pre-dinner beer.